UPDATE: Avenue has a new style and chef since this post was prepared.

Avenue is in the swanky St James neighbourhood in London, a short stroll down from Piccadilly and Green Park. It’s surrounded by the trappings of the well-heeled – cigar shops, caviar vendors. Arriving at this unabashedly modern brasserie, it’s refreshing to find a light, bright room and a great ambience. There’s a delightful bar at the front and leads into a long room with skylights and dark painted walls from which interesting art works hang.

Greedy Girl found Avenue through one of her previous great dining experiences, Eleven Madison Park in New York City. There, she and gluttonous husband enjoyed meeting the sommelier Rob who looked after us on both occasions we relished one of the world’s best restaurants. After finding Rob had moved back to his native London, Greedy Girl cyberstalked him on Linked In – he is now general manager of Avenue and he very kindly arranged a lovely glass of champagne to greet us on arrival.

Art is a key feature of Avenue, which changes exhibitions every three months. From time to time it also offers dining deals with other exhibitions, most notably at the Royal Academy. But Greedy Girl digresses.

Avenue has a Finnish chef, Kimmo Makkonen who has been at the restaurant since 2010 and took over as head chef last year. Turning his back on a career in graphic design, he decided to investigate cooking after moving to London and trained with Michelin-starred chefs. He says he likes using ingredients that are not typical but work in harmony. One illustration of that was his walnut bread. Dark, luscious, tasty – and a real trap. Greedy Girl wanted to finish the lot – but sense prevailed. There was too much food to come.

Avenue St James

Walnut bread

When we asked Rob what he’d recommend from the menu, we got a most unexpected response. The burger, he said, was one of his favourites. Done. Gluttonous husband ordered the pork belly as his main with some petits pois and shallots on the side, and we decided to share scallops as a starter.

But first there was an amuse bouche of tomato and watermelon gazpacho. This was an unusual combination but very enjoyable – and perfectly refreshing for a city in the grip of a ‘heatwave’ (sorry about the quote marks but Greedy Girl is Australian).

Avenue St James

Tomato and watermelon gazpacho

And so to the starter. Seared scottish scallops with mooli (another name for Daikon), sea lettuce, sesame seeds and soy sauce were delectable. The scallops were cooked perfectly. Perhaps by the end, the soy flavour became a little overpowering but this is a very minor quibble. Delish.

Avenue St James

Seared scottish scallops with mooli

On to mains. The burger was with ‘Keens’ cheddar (an artisan raw milk cheese), English mustard and triple-cooked chips. This was cooked medium. The beef pattie tasted, well, of beef – Greedy Girl could discern all the individual flavours and the bun was well beyond the mundane as well. A little side salad of lettuce, onion and gherkin and a tomato relish were also provided and the chips were devoured. An unqualified yum.

Gluttonous husband had Blythburgh pork belly, grelot onions (which are small and grow in bunches and are not dissimilar to pearl onions) and pickled radishes. The pork was succulent and the skin was crispy. Gluttonous husband was a fan of the onions too which he said complemented the meat very well. This was further accented by the petits pois (seen in the background of the burger picture above) which were laced with butter and shallots. Greedy Girl has been urged often to give peas a chance but has been known to pick them out of a serving of paella. Not this time. They were yummy, almost crunchy, although she suspects they may have just been the delivery mechanism for the butter and onions.

Avenue St James

Blythburgh pork belly

Both dishes were also enhanced by lovely glasses of red. Cotes du Rhone for gluttonous husband and a deliciously light Crozes Hermitage for Greedy Girl.

We finished with Valrhona chocolate mousse with peanuts and salted caramel. This was a very sweet dish, with milk rather than dark chocolate used. The salted caramel was intense and further sugar was provided by the peanuts which were more of a crumbled peanut brittle. It was delish but Greedy Girl’s teeth are still aching at the memory.

Avenue St James

Valrhona chocolate mousse with peanuts and salted caramel

The restaurant is part of the D&D Group which owns and runs restaurants in London, Leeds, New York, Tokyo and, most recently, Istanbul. It’s a very professional outfit if the quality of Avenue is any guide. The food was excellent, well-priced and the staff were warm and attentive. The restaurant is large but the noise level (even with some significant groups standing at the bar) never impinged. All told, very classy.

This is a gem – but unless you were staying nearby it’s not likely to be on your radar. It’s absolutely worth seeking out.


7-9 St James’s Street, London SW1

Avenue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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